Register Thursday | June 27 | 2019

God Help Thee: A Manifesto

Novelist, playwright, and actor Joel Thomas Hynes kicks against the pricks (and everything else within boot range).

Fuck the Narrows. Fuck Amherst Rock, the gull shit, the Castle. Fuck Marconi. Fuck the charming little hippy-stained row houses in the Battery. Fuck the Battery. Fuck your harbour clean-up. Fuck the bubble. Fuck the other bubble and fuck the harbour squid. Fuck the Scademia. Fuck the whales and fuck the puffins too. Fuck the Port Authority. Fuck the Keg and fuck that crowd that the Keg fucked over. Fuck your sirloins. Fuck foot-n-mouth. Fuck mad cow and fuck Alberta. Fuck out-migration. Fuck the foreign sailors. How many times do we gotta hear about soccer on the waterfront? Fuck off. Fuck the seal hunt and club-fuck your cutesy whitecoats. Fuck CNN and fuck The Humane Society. Fuck Paul McCartney. Fuck Danny’s heated driveway. Fuck cluster-fucked, choked-up Water Street with its so-called celebrity lawyers and slumped-over suicidal meter maids. Fuck the fifteen dollar parking tickets. Fuck them squeegee drummer kids who spends the winter hunkered down in Mount Pearl with Mom and Dad until the weather gets warm enough to come out and play homeless. Fuck Mount Pearl and fuck Mom and Dad. Fuck dripping testosterone George Street and fuck every binging, botched coulda/woulda/shoulda-been circle-jerkin ex-high school hockey star on it. Fuck two-for-one Wednesday and fuck tag-team Tuesdays. Fuck the desperate buskers. Fuck that creepy guy with the carnations who never fails to make you feel like shit for not buying a fuckin half-dead shriveled three-dollar flower. Cause you’re always with the wrong woman anyhow. Fuck the wrong woman. Fuck Junctions. Fuck them big Club One gorillas. Fuck Folk Night at The Ship. Fuck The Ship. Fuck the old Spur. Fuck the new Spur. Fuck the Five and Dime, or whatever it is they’re calling themselves these days. Fuck the late night greasy drunk-starved sausages that linger in your guts for days and pretty much guarantee you’re going home that night alone.

Fuck the culture. Fuck the battered skyline. Fuck the Basilica. Fuck the Rooms. Fuck the Beothuks. Fuck the Black Plague. Fuck Leif fuckin Erikson. Fuck Lancy Meadows. Fuck Cabot. Fuck the missionaries for enforcing the most predictably dull sexual position in the history of fucking. Fuck Labrador. Fuck Free Newfoundland and fuck this hipster Liberation Army slop. Fuck the paper-thin Republic. Fuck the friendly Newfoundlander and fuck Living Planet for not wanting to sell this on a t-shirt. Fuck whoever gave KFC the best view of the harbour. Fuck the harbour, did I say that? Well fuck it again.

Fuck the Harbour. Fuck the Shore. Fuck the coves. Fuck the bays. Fuck Bay Bulls. Fuck Witless Bay. Fuck Mobile. Fuck Tors Cove. Fuck Lamanche and the three girls hitchin on foggy nights. FUCK Cape Broyle. Fuck Caplin Bay. Fuck the Colony of Avalon. Fuck Aquaforte. Fuck Fermeuse. Get fucked in Renews. Stay fucked in Capahayden. Fuck the crowd further on up who likes to think they’re part of the Shore. Fuck Lard Baltimore. Fuck Peter Easton and fuck the Masterless Men. Fuck the Celtic Connection and fuck open mic at O’Reilly’s. Fuck every goddamn wannabe Irish pub from here to Vancouver Island. Fuck the Irish and fuck Vancouver Island. Fuck British Columbia and fuck the British.

Fuck the pine marten. Fuck the Newfoundland wolf. Fuck the great auk. Fuck the cod stocks. Fuck the moratorium. Fuck the Grand Banks. Fuck Hibernia. Fuck the highest gas prices in the cunt-ry. Fuck the Lower Churchill. Fuck the Upper Churchill. Fuck Quebec. Fuck Come be Chance. Fuck rubber boots and chocolate bars. Fuck Codco. Fuck Uncle Val. Fuck Snook. Fuck the Grand Band. Fuck Sonny’s Dream. Fuck Ron Hynes and fuck his thousand songs. Fuck the Bard of Prescott Street. Fuck Prescott Street. Fuck Duckworth and fuck Gower. Fuck Hatching Matching. Fuck Dooley Gardens. Fuck Gullage’s. Fuck Gulliver’s. Fuck Jiffy. Fuck Pigeon Inlet. Fuck Uncle Mose. Fuck Skipper and Company. Fuck Lloyd and Brice. Fuck Coronation Street. Fuck The Bingo Robbers. Fuck The Rowdy Man. Fuck John and fuck the Missus. Fuck Annie Proulx. Fuck the Cape. Fuck Ned Andrews and fuck the Vincents. Fuck The Boys of St. Vincent’s. Fuck The Singer’s Broken Throat. Fuck The Housewife. Fuck Mount Cashel. Fuck the Catholic Church. Fuck that Nazi rat-faced Pope. Fuck this paper justice bullshit; lets have a good old fashioned public castration with a blunt fuckin pencil. Fuck The Breadmaker. Fuck your Rain, Drizzle, and Fog. Fuck Keith and fuck Natasha. Fuck Halifax. Fuck 22 Minutes. Fuck Marg Delahunty. Fuck the Fureys. Fuck Rabbittown. Fuck pilot season. Fuck Mercer. Fuck the Nickel. Fuck the Women’s Film Festival. Fuck Rare Birds. Fuck The Nine Planets. Fuck Ed Riche. Fuck Winterset. Fuck the so-called Breakwater Boys. Fuck Woody Point. Fuck the March Hare. Fuck how fuckin hot the Newfoundland literary scene is supposed to be. Fuck Bobby O’Malley. Fuck House of Hate. Fuck Marble Mountain. Fuck the Grenfell brats. Fuck your Holt Renfrew luggage set, missus. Horse-fuck Toronto. Fuck the CN tower and fuck the clubhouse sandwich. Fuck the TCH. Fuck the MIA. Fuck EI. Fuck UI. Fuck ER. Fuck CSI. Fuck FPI. Fuck DFO. Fuck Risley. Fuck Clearwater. Fuck the inshore fishery. Fuck the draggers. Fuck Abitibi. Fuck the dead history and fuck the so-called future of rural Newfoundland. Fuck Coaker. Fuck Brian Tobin and fuck the catamites who set him on the throne in the first place. Fuck this freedom of speech nonsense. Fuck censorship. Fuck your precious manicured downtown sensitivities. Fuck stage-fright. Fuck mediocrity. Fuck Alcoholics Anonymous (for tonight anyhow). Fuck the condos in the Gut. Fuck the ignoramus theatrics down at City Hall. Fuck 1892. Fuck the big fire. Fuck the next big fire. Fuck 1949. Fuck Joey. Fuck Fidel. Fuck Sterling’s gold injections. Fuck the evening news hour. Fuck the referendum. Fuck Confederation. Fuck Resettlement. Fuck your one-room schoolhouse. Fuck the old flag and fuck the new flag. Fuck the maple leaf. Fuck the Rangers. Fuck the Mounties. Fuck the Constabulary. Fuck your criminal justice system with a great big barbed, non-fuckin-lubricated gavel handle. Fuck the famous hospitality. Fuck your fair trade morning latte. Fuck your Carnation milk. Fuck Tetley. Fuck your ginger snaps and jam-jams. Fuck your fatback pork scruncheons. Fuck your cod tongues and fuck your salt fish and potatoes and drawn butter. Fuck your bottled moose. Fuck your figgy duff. Fuck jigg’s goddamn dinner. Fuck Ches’s famous fee and chi. Fuck Johnny’s. Fuck Leo’s. Fuck Scampers. Mile One? Fuck it. Fuck your Fog Devils. Fuck your holiday for Brad fuckin Gushue. Fuck Memorial Stadium. Fuck Sobeys. Fuck Dominion. Fuck the Regatta. Fuck Newfoundland Power. Fuck Rogers. Fuck the light bill. Fuck the heat bill. Fuck the phone bill. Fuck the damage deposit and fuck the landlord. Fuck the Village Mall. Fuck the Peace Accord. Fuck Bannerman. Fuck that gazebo. Fuck Bowring Park. Fuck Peter Pan. Fuck the ducks and fuck them fuckin swans. Fuck the War Memorial. Fuck the skateboarders. Fuck Fred’s Records. Fuck Churchill Square. Fuck snow clearing. Fuck garbage days. Fuck ten fellas in safety vests staring down a manhole and scratching their nuts all summer. Fuck Rawlins Cross.

Fuck bad press being better than no press at all. Fuck the press. Fuck The Telegram and fuck The Independent. Fuck The Globe. Fuck The Herald. Fuck Elvis’ birthday. Fuck Sexy Dislexy Rexy and fuck whats-his-face from the year before. Fuck the Salmon Festival. Fuck Great Big fuckin Sea. Fuck the George Street Festival. Fuck your southwesters. Fuck Trinity. Fuck your press-back chairs. Fuck the Heritage Society. Fuck Lukey’s Boat. Fuck Sheila’s Brush. Fuck the OxyContin ghosts lined up outside Theatre Pharmacy. Fuck Buckingham. Fuck the new codeine regulations. Fuck the recent rash of armed robberies. Fuck gun registration. Fuck weekends at the Pen. Fuck the Waterford and fuck the Grace.

Fuck Gros Morne. Fuck Cow Head. Fuck that old bag from Isle aux Morts whose mother and sisters never said the F-word in their lives. And we all knows what the F-word is dont we? Fuck Open Line. Fuck Randy and Bill and Baz and Linda. Fuck Marine Atlantic and fuck North Sydney. Fuck the Newfie Bullet. Fuck Gander. Fuck the most easterly point in North America. Fuck your sunrise. Fuck anger management. And fuck the CBC for not havin the balls to put this on the radio.

***

A Postscript

Down on Fifth Avenue somewheres in Manhattan in early 2006 and I came upon a t-shirt that was basically full of “fuck this” and “fuck that,” primarily geared towards everything outsiders know about New York, like the Empire State Building and Lady Liberty and the famous hotdogs. So it said “Fuck the Empire State Building,” “Fuck the famous hotdogs.” But then it also had this generic feel to it as well—“Fuck rude people.” “Fuck potholes.” And I found that aspect of it fairly disappointing. Plus it was a t-shirt, so it was very brief. But I saw what its function was—a mutinous means of expanding the myth of New York. It worked as a sort of anti-tourism brochure that actually served to remind me where I was and what was so magnificent about where I was. A case of bad press being far superior to not only no press at all, but good press as well. And I thought I wanted a t-shirt of my own, as a sort of counter-attack to all the empty Newfoundland Liberation Army logos and so-called republican propaganda. Newfoundland, at the time, was not an easy place for me to be and I had an anger towards it that I couldnt quite nail down. So I sat down to write the t-shirt. Only I wasnt about to write a t-shirt that tourists and expatriates would understand and feel comfortable wearing or stuffing Christmas stockings with. I wanted a t-shirt that I would wear. And I had a feeling as well that there were more folks out there who felt the same way, that my anger and frustration with Newfoundland in the new millennium is not all that unique. Because I also think that what cripples the vast majority of our culture and society here is the fact that we dont quite know what to be angry about. We never know where to throw the punch. And we get tired very easily. We get run down and throw in the towel without really exploring the limits of our own capabilities. We are very, very good at taking a beating, no doubt about that. But in the end thats what we do—we bend over and take it. If the price is right, and right now. These were my thoughts when I sat down to write this piece. And I guess I still feel the same.

So yes, I sat down to write the t-shirt. But I got a little carried away. Suddenly I was writing a quilt. Maybe a sail for a boat. Maybe a manifesto. I just kept going with it. And in the middle of the writing I was asked to write a performance piece for the annual Resource Centre for the Arts (RCA) April Fool’s fundraiser at the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John’s. I wasnt feeling all that comedic and I was a little sick of myself. I had been doing a lot of readings and plays in them days and not feeling that sense of panic at all when I walked onstage. Walking out on stage in front of an audience was starting to have the same effect as walking into a shop for a pack of gum. I didnt trust the applause or the laugh or the standing ovation. I just didnt care, and I was starting to resent audiences for having an expectation, or maybe I felt that what I had to offer had become the norm for people who came to see my work and I started to hate my work and hate the audience. I even started drugging myself up a bit to make things a little interesting or harder to control, something I’d have to fight with. Because the last thing a performer needs is a comfort zone to fall back on. Safety nets are dull and boring and the furthest thing from creativity. A breeding ground for mediocrity. So I upped the bar a little with this piece. For myself, I guess. Some part of me wanted to be booed off stage. And where better to perform it than to a captive audience at the A&C? I just wanted to see what would happen. Granted, it wasnt an angry performance at all. I found a way to get a laugh out of it, mostly because it’s so relentless. My favorite bit is “Fuck the pine marten.” I cant say why. Anyways, it was a full house and I was terrified going onstage. Some people walked out but mostly people ate it up and had a good time with it. The RCA was flooded with letters of complaint afterwards, some people claiming to boycott RCA productions in future. I was happy with those letters, I must say. So, here it is. This is neither a disclaimer nor an apology. If you see your name or your business in here and you feel like smacking me in the face sometime, well give it a go. I’m not so hard to find. If you get feeling sore because you dont see your name or likeness in here, well for that I really do apologize. All I can say is fuck you too.

Reprinted from Riddle Fence #2, 2008